Treehouse Software – 40 Years and Still Moving Forward (Part 1)

by Joseph Brady, Director of Business Development and Cloud Alliance Leader at Treehouse Software, Inc. 

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Introduction

Many readers know that Treehouse Software has been around since 1983, serving enterprises worldwide with industry-leading software products and outstanding technical support. However, this blog series will dig a little deeper into Treehouse Software’s origins and explore how founder and president, George Szakach blazed a trail from being a systems programmer in the early 60s, to creating and growing his own software company from the early 80s up to the present.

The beginnings… 1960’s.  Moon Landing, Flower Power, the Righteous Brothers, and Punched Cards

George is a Vietnam-era veteran and started working with mainframes in 1960 while in the Army. 

After programming school in Fort Monmouth, NJ, George was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona where he wrote army related applications on the IBM 709.

Before leaving the army in 1963, George had many job offers.  Three years of programming experience was unheard-of back then, so his skillset was very valuable.  He was even offered a job by the president of Informatics, working in Houston at the NASA Johnson Space Center to “put a man on the moon.”  He declined.

Throughout the rest of the 60s, George worked at Burroughs, Univac, and Leasco. During the 70s through 1982, George worked for Ocean Data Systems, Data General, Optical Recognition Systems, Software AG (his longest stint – 7 years), and Superior Oil.

Punched card…

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IBM 709 Computer System…

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George’s archeological finds from his time at Univac…

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With all of this foundational mainframe experience combined with his skills honed at Software AG, the seeds were planted for George’s future: take those roots, move to the trees, and build a house… 

Coming soon… Part 2: Treehouse Software’s first generations.    


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About Treehouse Software

Since 1983, Treehouse Software has been serving enterprises worldwide with industry-leading mainframe software products and outstanding technical support. Today, Treehouse Software is a global leader in providing data replication, and integration solutions for the most complex and demanding heterogeneous environments, as well as feature-rich, accelerated-ROI offerings for information delivery, and application modernization.

Contact Treehouse Software

AWS Services Provide Advanced Monitoring and Analytics of tcVISION’s Mainframe CDC Processing

by Joseph Brady, Director of Business Development and Cloud Alliance Leader at Treehouse Software, Inc.

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Many Treehouse Software mainframe modernization customers have requirements for continuous near-real-time replication of mainframe data in order to keep a copy of the data synchronized on the Cloud. These customers are using tcVISION from Treehouse Software for changed data capture (CDC) for this synchronization, which allows changes occurring in any mainframe application data to be tracked and captured, and then published to a variety of AWS targets, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Some of these customers are also now asking us to recommend the best Cloud-based tools and methods to monitor and gain insights to these complex data processes. Coincidentally, while working with a current tcVISION customer, our technicians are testing out two particularly good, fully managed AWS services that can work hand-in-hand to address this need:

Amazon Athena

Since tcVISION supports Amazon S3 as a target, customers modernizing their mainframe systems on AWS can use Amazon Athena for monitoring and analysis of CDC processing from an S3 bucket.

Amazon Athena is a serverless, interactive analytics service built on open-source frameworks, supporting open-table and file formats. Athena provides a simplified, flexible way to analyze data from an S3 Bucket, as well as many other data sources, including on-premises data sources or other Cloud systems. Athena is built on open-source Trino and Presto engines and Apache Spark frameworks, with no provisioning or configuration effort required.

Figure 1: Example of an Athena query showing bulk-load statistics per table

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Amazon QuickSight

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Once Athena is setup for monitoring an S3 Bucket, users can easily view their CDC processing and analytics with Amazon QuickSight. QuickSight utilizes advanced machine learning-powered insights and intuitive dashboards, so end users can make the best and quickest data-driven business decisions.

Figure 2: Example of Amazon QuickSight monitoring the throughput of our data to Snowflake

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Figure 3: Example of Amazon QuickSight pie chart showing the resulting rows loaded for each Snowflake table:

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Figure 4: Example of Amazon QuickSight chart showing statistics for our data bulk-load into Snowflake:

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Figure 5: Example of Amazon QuickSight chart showing our load time into Snowflake per table:

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View the Amazon QuickSite video here…


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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.


Treehouse Software Salutes Franco Harris

by Joseph Brady, Director of Business Development and Cloud Alliance Leader at Treehouse Software, Inc. 

With the recent passing of Pittsburgh Steelers great running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Franco Harris, we would like to revisit April of 1993, when Treehouse Software held an international consultant’s symposium. The symposium brought together attendees and speakers from many consulting and technology companies, and schools from around the world. Since Treehouse Software is located in the greater Pittsburgh area, company president George Szakach was acquainted with Franco and invited him to deliver a fascinating and entertaining address, where he spoke about his career, several business ventures he was pursuing, as well as his budding interest in computer technology.

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Franco Harris at Treehouse Software’s Consultant’s Symposium (April 1993)

A few years ago, George reminded Franco about his visit to Treehouse back in 1993. He remembered and they shared some laughs and memories. 

We would also like to mention Franco’s well-known sense of community and accessibility in Pittsburgh. Many staff members have met Franco over the years and have fond memories of his friendliness and willingness to spend time engaging in conversations. Those who come in to the Pittsburgh International airpot can see a sculpture depicting Franco’s famous “Immaculate Reception” from 1972.  Thousands of people, especially recently, have selfies taken with the sculpture. Franco will be missed by his many friends and the community.

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Franco Harris sculpture at Pittsburgh International Airport.


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About Treehouse Software

Since 1982, Treehouse Software has been serving enterprises worldwide with industry-leading mainframe software products and outstanding technical support. Today, Treehouse Software is a global leader in providing data replication, and integration solutions for the most complex and demanding heterogeneous environments, as well as feature-rich, accelerated-ROI offerings for information delivery, and application modernization.

Contact Treehouse Software

5-Minute Video: Connecting a Mainframe IDMS Database to an AWS SQL Server Database with tcVISION

Treehouse Software is the worldwide distributor of tcVISION, the leading tool for using changed data capture (CDC) when transferring information between most mainframe data sources (IBM Db2, IBM VSAM, IBM IMS/DB, Software AG Adabas, CA IDMS, CA Datacom, or even sequential files) and Cloud and open systems-based databases and applications.

The following video takes a quick look at how tcVISION’s repository is used to import mainframe IDMS schema and builds out a target system on AWS:


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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.

7-Minute Video: Manage All of Your Mainframe-to-Cloud Data Replication Tasks from tcVISION’s Control Board

Treehouse Software is the worldwide distributor of tcVISION, the leading tool for using changed data capture (CDC) when transferring information between most mainframe data sources (IBM Db2, IBM VSAM, IBM IMS/DB, Software AG Adabas, CA IDMS, CA Datacom, or even sequential files) and Cloud and open systems-based databases and applications.

The following video briefly takes a look at how the tcVISION Control Board (a Windows-based GUI interface) functions as a central point of administration, data mapping and modeling, script generation, and overall monitoring. In this example, we show how to manage connectivity and data replication between a Mainframe database and AWS PostgreSQL using the tcVISION Control Board:


Further reading: tcVISION is featured on the AWS Partner Network Blog showing a walk-through of data replication between Mainframe and Amazon Aurora…

AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog: Real-Time Mainframe Data Replication to AWS with tcVISION from Treehouse Software.


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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.

tcVISION Video Demonstrations: Real-time Mainframe Data Replication on Three Popular Cloud SQL Databases

Treehouse Software is the worldwide distributor of tcVISION, the leading tool for using changed data capture (CDC) when transferring information between most mainframe data sources (IBM Db2, IBM VSAM, IBM IMS/DB, Software AG Adabas, CA IDMS, CA Datacom, or even sequential files) and Cloud and open systems-based databases and applications. Changes occurring in the mainframe application data are then tracked and captured, and published to a variety of targets.

This video demonstrates real-time data replication between Db2 and PostgreSQL on AWS:

This video demonstrates real-time data replication between Db2 and Google Cloud SQL:

This video demonstrates real-time data replication between Db2 and Azure SQL:


Further reading: tcVISION is featured on the AWS Partner Network Blog showing a walk-through of data replication between Mainframe DB2 z/OS and Amazon Aurora…

AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog: Real-Time Mainframe Data Replication to AWS with tcVISION from Treehouse Software.


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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.

Replicating Enterprise Mainframe Data to Cloud-based SQL Databases with tcVISION

by Joseph Brady, Director of Business Development and Cloud Alliance Leader at Treehouse Software, Inc.

Treehouse Software has been helping enterprise mainframe customers since 1982, and in recent years, we have been developing a strong presence in the Mainframe-to-Cloud data replication market space. This blog takes a quick look at three of the most popular Treehouse-supported Cloud-based SQL database services…

Amazon RDS, a collection of managed services that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale databases in the Cloud. Users can control the type of database, as well as where data is stored. Specific database formats that are supported include Amazon Aurora, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle Database, and SQL Server:

Google Cloud SQL, a fully managed relational database service for MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL server. You can connect with nearly any application, anywhere in the world. Cloud SQL automates backups, replication, and failover to ensure your database is reliable, highly available, and flexible to your performance needs:

Microsoft Azure SQL, a part of the Azure SQL family, Azure SQL Database is an always-up-to-date, fully managed relational database service built for the Cloud:


Wherever you want to target your mainframe data on the Cloud, Treehouse Software helps to make the process easy…

Treehouse Software is the worldwide distributor of tcVISION, the leading tool for using changed data capture (CDC) when transferring information between most mainframe data sources (IBM Db2, IBM VSAM, IBM IMS/DB, Software AG Adabas, CA IDMS, CA Datacom, or even sequential files) and Cloud and open systems-based databases and applications. Changes occurring in the mainframe application data are then tracked and captured, and published to a variety of targets.

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Additionally, tcVISION supports bi-directional data replication, where changes on either platform are reflected on the other platform (e.g., a change to a PostgreSQL table in the Cloud is reflected back on mainframe), allowing the customer to modernize their application on the Cloud or open systems without disrupting the existing critical work on the legacy system. tcVISION’s bi-directional replication writes directly to the mainframe database, thereby bypassing all mainframe business logic, so this architecture requires careful planning, as well as thorough and repeated testing.

Sales and technical leaders at the major Cloud platform companies, as well as systems integrators are engaging with Treehouse Software to take advantage of our tcVISION data replication solution to help them tap into the mainframe data that customers want to be made available on new technologies.


Further reading: tcVISION is featured on the AWS Partner Network Blog showing a walk-through of data replication between Mainframe DB2 z/OS and Amazon Aurora…

AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog: Real-Time Mainframe Data Replication to AWS with tcVISION from Treehouse Software.


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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.

Treehouse Software Customer Success: BMF uses tcVISION for Real-Time Data Replication Between Mainframe Adabas and PostgreSQL

BMF_Building

The Bundesministerium der Finanzen (BMF) is Germany’s Ministry of Finance and establishes sustainable fiscal policy that ensures financial empowerment of the federal budget. From tax policy via development of federal budget, to regulation of national and international financial markets – for these and other fiscal and economic questions of principle, the BMF creates strategies and concepts, and implements them. The Federal Tax Administration is part of BMF, and controls not only the cross-border goods traffic, but acts against illegal employment and other crimes. The tax administration also imposes consumer taxes (e.g., energy and tobacco tax, car tax, etc.). Financial relations between federation, countries, and communities are also coordinated by BMF.

Department II (federal budget) is part of the German government in charge of establishing the budget and financial planning of the federation. Throughout the year, it monitors execution of the budget for eventual intervention (e.g., with a budget freeze, or supplementary budget). After closing the fiscal year, the budget and balance sheet will be presented. The budget is a supplement of the budget act, legally binding.

The central service organization of BMF is the Informationstechnikzentrum Bund – ITZBund (Information technic center).

BUSINESS BACKGROUND

Drawing up the budget is a yearly, highly time consuming, and formalized business process. All departments are involved in nearly every sub-process, and budgeting and financial planning is supported by the application, “Haushaltsaufstellung / Budgetgeneration”. Using the generated reports, various addressees/receivers are supported (e.g., German Federal Government, German Federal Parliament, Federal Council of Germany, finance department in BMF, the employees in the departments, and the public).

Technically, the budget plan of the federation is based on technologies, including the IBM Mainframe with z/OS running Adabas and Natural.

The challenge was to provide an environment for employees in all departments that enables them to do their work quickly, easily, and efficiently. In the BMF, users must have an editorless, end-user driven, and real-time creation of ready-to-print products. An informative description of the workflow is shown on the website of the BMF.

The federal budget is available as download, or one can directly navigate through the data using the online application.

BUSINESS ISSUE

Some time ago, BMF decided to re-engineer the application for budget planning and port it to Open Source. To guarantee a seamless transition, the first step is propagation of data out of Adabas on z/OS to PostgreSQL, concluding with permanent synchronization.

The difficulties of this task are the complexities of setting up data definitions for the data structures in Natural and the propagation of data from Adabas on z/OS to PostgreSQL.

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION: tcVISION

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After an analysis of the project, Treehouse Software proposed creating an extension to tcVISION’s change data capture (CDC) functionality for integration, so that tcVISION could enable BMF to continue using the implemented data definitions in a format suitable for the RDBMS.

The extension was developed within a few days, and a two-day on premise test demonstrated the solution fit the requirements of BMF.

BMF can now provide its data definitions from Natural LDA to the extension of tcVISION, and after the transformation, onto the PostgreSQL load process for processing. Another advantage of the tcVISION solution is that when needed, other targets can be integrated for propagation of data from the mainframe (e.g., Kafka, which BMF indicated is a future target environment).

Additionally, bi-directional propagation can be added in budget planning when BMF is ready.

Data structures are held in LDA, because this provides the advantages of higher flexibility in development and the adaption of new requirements to the data definitions. If definitions would have to be ported manually, in part, to PostgreSQL, it would have been a much bigger and error-prone effort.

Subsequent changes to Adabas structures can now use tcVISION’s newly developed extension to easily regenerate and load the correct definitions to the RDBMS, and tcVISION completely covers the customer’s requirements for special usage of *PEs and *MUs.

After thorough preparation and extensive testing, the solution was released to selected users first, then made available to all users.

* PEs and MUs are special Adabas formats for definition of tables. PE = Periodic Group, MU = Multiple Value Field.


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Contact Treehouse Software for a Demo Today…

No matter where you want your mainframe data to go – the cloud, open systems, or any LUW target – tcVISION from Treehouse Software is your answer.

Just fill out the Treehouse Software Product Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.


Further reading: Treehouse Software Customer Success – ETS: tcVISION for Real-Time Synchronization Between Mainframe IDMS and AWS RDS for PostgreSQL

Considerations for Planning Bi-Directional Mainframe Data Replication with tcVISION

by Joseph Brady, Director of Business Development and Cloud Alliance Leader at Treehouse Software, Inc.

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Many medium-to-large size enterprises use mainframe systems that are housing vast amounts of mission-critical data encompassing historical, customer, logistics, etc. information.  Each mainframe site is unique and can have decades worth of customizations requiring innovative approaches to establishing data replication on Cloud and open systems platforms. Fortunately for these customers, Treehouse Software has been in the mainframe software market since 1982, bringing deep experience in mainframe, Cloud, and open systems technologies, as well as delivering the tcVISION mainframe data replication product. Today, Treehouse Software is helping many enterprise mainframe customers accelerate digital transformation and successfully leverage Hybrid Cloud initiatives on the IBM Z platform, storing sensitive data on a private Cloud or local data center and simultaneously leveraging leading technologies on a managed public Cloud.

Treehouse Software’s tcVISION solution focuses on changed data capture (CDC) when transferring information between mainframe data sources and Cloud and open systems-based databases and applications. Changes occurring in the mainframe application data are then tracked and captured, and published to a variety of targets. Additionally, tcVISION supports bi-directional data replication, where changes on either platform are reflected on the other platform (e.g., a change to a PostgreSQL table in the Cloud is reflected back on mainframe), allowing the customer to modernize their application on the Cloud or open systems without disrupting the existing critical work on the legacy system. tcVISION’s bi-directional replication writes directly to the mainframe database, thereby bypassing all mainframe business logic, so this architecture requires careful planning, as well as thorough and repeated testing.

Plan carefully…

The following section offers some real-world customer examples, as well as considerations and recommendations when planning bi-directional replication for any mainframe/RDBMS environments. Bi-directional replication by its nature is a very complicated undertaking, so it is necessary that customers are fully educated in all environments, software, and processes before attempting to write data back to a mainframe database. It is always recommended that customers use a minimally effective measure of bi-directional replication required to accomplish their goal — and no more. An overblown project with unnecessary bi-directional data replication invites undue complexity and delays.

Real-world customer examples…

Treehouse Software has many customers performing bi-directional data replication, and each scenario is vastly different from the others, even if some have the same sources and targets as each other.  For example, some customers utilize a Master/Master, collision-heavy proposition, while others use uni-directional one way, then “flip a switch” uni-directional the other way. Another example is a customer who has a “grand circle,” where data hits multiple applications before it finally makes its way back to an RDBMS staging database that tcVISION replicates to the mainframe.

Example of a Treehouse customer’s bi-directional data replication environment using tcVISION:

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There are many planning and implementation stages that go into a successful mainframe replication environment, and performance testing is a vital part of a successful project.  For example, customers should do performance tests on how long it takes tcVISION to read a database log, transfer data, process data, etc.  During testing at one of our reference customer sites we found a significant difference in how long it took for their test and prod LPARs to transmit data to the Cloud, based on whether the mainframe TCP/IP stack used a 32-bit or 128-bit setting.

At another site, where we are helping a large government agency perform bi-directional replication on mainframe data, their original goal was for a significant percentage of mainframe objects to have bi-directional replication. It was determined that it would be impossible to extract business logic from the existing mainframe application for usage in the downstream application. Therefore, they have decided to use a middleware product to perform the “write-back” to the mainframe database.  Given the complexity of the mainframe application, this has proven the safest way for them to proceed.

Because of the variety of customer scenarios as described above, before any site can attempt bi-directional data replication, it is crucial that they have a well-tested uni-directional process with operational controls in place for a significant time period.  “Operational controls” means processes to restart scripts, evaluation of failed transactions, orchestration of mainframe/non-mainframe DBMS changes, etc.

Please contact Treehouse Software to discuss your Mainframe-to-Cloud and Open Systems modernization plans. We can help put in place a roadmap to modernization success.


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Contact Treehouse Software Today for a tcVISION Demo…

No matter where you want your mainframe data to go – the Cloud, open systems, or any LUW target – tcVISION from Treehouse Software is your answer.

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Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.


Providing a High Availability Framework for Mainframe-to-AWS Data Replication

by Dan Vimont, Cloud Solutions Architect at Treehouse Software, Inc.

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Treehouse Software customers are using tcVISION to enable mission-critical mainframe-to-AWS data replication pipelines.  Some of these production pipelines are providing vital near-real-time synchronization between source and target, and thus can’t afford any significant downtime in the event of failure.  So it’s only natural that a number of our customers have been asking for advice in setting up a high availability configuration for their tcVISION components that run on AWS EC2 instances.  The High Availability Framework discussed here provides for a Failover EC2 instance to automatically pick up tcVISION processing should the Primary instance (running in another Availability Zone) go down.

The Core Components:  Primary Instance & Failover Instance

The core components of a tcVISION high availability framework consist of two EC2 instances running in different Availability Zones:  a Primary EC2 instance and a Failover EC2 instance.  Both identically-configured EC2 instances are attached to a shared working-storage file system (either an EFS or FSx volume), which allows the Failover instance to seamlessly and quickly pick up tcVISION processing should the Primary instance suddenly become unavailable.

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Use a Step Function to Automate the Failover Process

In the event of failure of the Primary instance, the recommended framework calls for automatic triggering of a Step Function for reliable failover processing, with steps that include the following:

  • verify that the Primary instance is unavailable (The tcVISION service cannot be active on both instances simultaneously, so this verification is vital.)
  • redirect all network traffic from the Primary instance to the Failover instance (via Route 53)
  • start tcVISION processing on the Failover instance

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When Ready, Use a Step Function to Automate the Restoration Process

After operations personnel have completed recovery of the Primary EC2 instance, another Step Function may be manually triggered to reliably transfer tcVISION processing back to the Primary instance.

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Many More Details are Available Upon Request to Treehouse Customers

Full details regarding our recommended High Availability Framework for tcVISION are available upon request to Treehouse customers.  AWS services utilized in the complete recommended framework include Step Functions, Lambda Functions, EventBridge rules, CloudWatch alarms, SNS topics, a Route 53 Private Hosted Zone, and more.  The following diagram is a partial visual inventory of the recommended framework components.

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Interested in seeing a live, online demo of tcVISION?

Just fill out the Treehouse Software tcVISION Demonstration Request Form and a Treehouse representative will contact you to set up a time for your online tcVISION demonstration.


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